The second quarter challenge is to be inspired by the 1920’s and I decided to look at some art deco designs for inspiration. What I noticed most was repeating patterns, many with floral themes. During this research time, I was also inspired by a recent post by Ildi K. and thought I might want to give her technique a try. So why not combine these ideas into one project? Then I remembered that I had already done some design work based on Montana wildflowers in my Level 3 Art and Design class. Maybe I could use some of those floral designs and create my own “art deco” pattern?
This is a Mariposa lily. It blooms in June or July here.
These are some quick sketches using that flower shape but creating a simplified design that was more abstract.
I used the final design in several ways on paper. I could have just used one of these as my final design but I had noticed that many art deco repeat patterns were in squares or triangles. I thought perhaps I could fit the flower portion of the design into a triangle.
So on graph paper, I created a triangle pattern and fit the flower into it. What a jumbled mess! Obviously, I don’t create repeating patterns much. It’s way too busy for me. But perhaps if the triangle lines were more visible?
So I darkened the lines of the triangle and I liked this better. I think it would be better with a blank triangle in between the floral design but I left it as it was.
Now if I was going to do this in felt, I needed to enlarge the design. So I expanded it by 200% on my copy machine and then just used one portion of the design. Next up was to figure out a color scheme and see if I had the correct materials on hand. I thought I had some unspun yarn in my stash but I was wrong. I felt that would work best for the outlines so I have to order some before I can get started on the felting portion of this challenge.
I am not as far along on my challenge as Ann is. She was showing hers off last night at the social (on Zoom). I hoped you might be both curious about my research progress and may find inspiration for your own challenge. I am looking at Art Nouveau, which starts before our challenge period but extends through to 1910. It draws influence from the arts and crafts movement, craft revivals and the introduction of Japanese prints to England and Europe.
Art Nouveau, “ornamental style of art that flourished between about 1890 and 1910 throughout Europe and the United States. Art Nouveau is characterized by its use of a long, sinuous, organic line and was employed most often in architecture, interior design, jewelry and glass design, posters, and illustration.”
in Architecture one of the earliest to use the art Nouveau style was Victor Horta who’s most famous town home in Brussels predates the challenge, but Hôtel Tassel is a particularly good example of the organic fluid style of Art Nouveau with structure and patterning inspired by nature.
1-5 Victor Horta; Tassel house Brussels. Exterior 1893, Railing details, Staircase, Stained-glass.
Another example of this style is in commercial illustration, (for which I have a particular fondness) was the work of Alphonse Mucha. He was a Czech painter, illustrator and graphic artist, living in Paris during the Art Nouveau period. His distinctly stylized and decorative posters often encompass organic flowing lines. He often used circles or arches to highlight his subject and embellished them in lavish flowing fabric, flora and hair. He is most famous for his Theater posters, particularly of Sara Bernhard. He also did other commercial art designs and large murals for the exhibition of 1900. He produced portraitures in New York while getting backers for his work the Slavs but this is just after our challenge time period.
I purchased prints of his while I was at University and again after graduation. I only have one of them up at the moment, Media, since I have many bookshelves and little wall space. In grade 13 I was one of 2 girls who read the part of Medea in English class. The teacher suggested the boys should be careful of both of us since we both seem to have enjoyed reading the role.
in Laurel of 1901 and some of the top decorative elements of the Pen 1899, you can see the arts and crafts inspiration from the textiles and wallpapers of William Morris.
10-11 William Morris; 1896, 1897
In Art Nouveau, I also get to see some of the Norse art of the Urnes and Oseberg style. this may be why I am so captivated by its flowing linear quality.
While I have been delving into hours of looking at the amazing graphic linear design I also was finishing off the main guild library lists for 2021; Topic, Magazines, Author and Title, submitted the outline for the armature study group and am finalizing the supply list for it.
Then I got a message reminding me I had promised to get a photoshoot done for the armature study group sign up page. Ooops, OK change of plan where did I put the wire, oh yes in the white bucket beside the computer desk! I re-piled my partly cleared desk with various packages of wire, so much for cleaning up my desk. Now, how can I display all that in an aesthetically pleasing manner? Mr. Mer volunteered again (I suspect I will never convince him he should be a fisherman after this.)
I used my chair as the backdrop and draped a throw Glenn gave me over it. I selected the 11 gauge steel (grate for quadra-dents not so much armatures), the 12 gauge aluminum and 20 gauge floral wire. I suspended the 11 gauge wire with a piece of kumihimo I had just finished since it was too heavy for even a Mer-man of his excellent physique to lift.
I suspect all that looking at all the Art Nouveau may have unexpectedly influenced the photoshoot! I had not been thinking about it at the time I set it up but see what you think.
Here are a couple of shots from the photoshoot.
12-13 Mr. Mer Posing with Armature and Quodra-dent wire
I pulled one of the photos and stuffed it into “PhotoPad” which is a free photo editing software and started to play using the Cartoon edit feature I got this.
14 Cartoon edit from PhotoPad
With a bit of stretching of the image, it changed to this.
15 added stretch to JPEG to create proportions of the theatre posters of Mucha.
When I played around in Microsoft Word, I did a bit of artistic photo editing and got this.
16 Microsoft effect “Photocopy” with increased contrast and saturation.
I have gone from 3D felt to 2D flat, like the prints by Mucha. I’m not sure this is it. It’s a bit too stylized and abstract but I like the flow. Is that frothing sea foam crashing behind him? There is definitely something here. I will think about this for a while. Now I wonder where this will take me as I continue to consider the first challenge of the year.
These last couple of weeks in the Wet Felt Makers group on Facebook people have been making in interesting and new to me type of scarf. It’s called a french scarf.
Arlene Toth shared it with the group and shared the youtube video. It is part of a video from a fibre festival a year ago. The teacher is Elena Nayemova. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho5B-bOHKwE The instructions start at 28:58 in the video. It is in Rusian. You can probably figure it out by just watching her make it but If you want to and you are on a computer not using the Youtube app you can use a translation future on Youtube. It’s nowhere near perfect but it helps. I will explain that at the bottom.
The scarf in the video is very lacy and mostly yarn, very decorative. I wanted something warmer so used much more wool. After seeing how small the ones using the dimensions from the video were turning out I sorted out my own sizing that I thought would work and had a go. If you are petite then the smaller dimensions would probably work for you but I am Rubenesque so that isn’t going to work for me. I picked purple and orange, my go-to colours. I used orange and gold silk lap bits on one side and some yarns for decoration on the other.
You can wear it in different ways.
The part that goes behind the neck is a bit short I think and maybe the rectangular part too. I added some to both parts and had another go in red this time, using silk hankies and silk top
For this one, I used silk hankies on one side and silk top on the other. I like this one better. I pulled the piece through farther so it hangs down to wear it out. I am not much for big bows. If you want to fold it into a triangle and poke the corner though I wouldn’t add the extra length to the rectangle part. Here are different ways to wear it
The other thing I realized while taking pictures is that you can give the large piece a twist in the loop so you have both sides showing
I wanted a winter scarf inside my coat. It worked wonderfully even though it’s not really cold here yet. I hope you give it a try.
Looking back at this link, I realise I sold the sea picture I used as the blog header this week. Happy times! A couple of people asked in the comments if I’d also show how I’ve made beaches, so here we go.
The beaches where I live are mainly pebbles, but there are sandy beaches a little to the east and I’ve used both types of beach in my pictures.
Here’s a picture of two Sanderlings at Minnis Bay: a lovely sandy beach with chalk rocks embedded in places in the sand.I’m starting with this as it was an early picture and the first time I thought of using a blue cobweb felt overlay to represent a wet beach reflecting the sky. It’s a technique I like and use quite a lot.
Layout for and final picture “2 Sanderlings, Minnis Bay”
There’s a pewter-coloured base for the sand and light prefelted sections and silk fabric pieces for the chalk with a bit of darker shading around them
Here’s another Sanderlings picture, also at Minnis Bay. This time I’ve used a few different sandy shades to add the idea of shade and texture in the sand.
Pebble and shell beaches are more common in my pictures as this is what I see when I walk near home. There are quite a lot of variables in how I create them. Some choices are for ‘artistic’ reasons (how do I want this to look and feel?), some for experimental reasons (what would happen if?) and some are entirely pragmatic (what suitable bits of prefelt and felt offcuts do I have kicking around at the moment?).
This is a Big Wave picture that is now owned by a friend of mine. Here I have cut up felt and pre-felt into pebble shapes and put them on a base of several layers of sandy coloured wool tops. I then laid a bit of blue cobweb prefelt and silk over the pebbles nearest to the wave to give the impression of the remains of a previous wave over the pebbles before wet felting everything together
This is a similar picture where I’ve added more patterned silk scraps (recycled charity shop scarves) which are topped with wisps of wool to help them felt in.
Here I’ve taken a different approach. Whitstable is on the north Kent coast of the UK. It’s famous for oysters and has a very long history of oyster catching and farming. Empty oyster shells are piled up on the beach next to a local restaurant to be reused for farmed oysters. When it’s quiet, turnstones pick over the shells, ferreting out bits of left-behind oyster. I love the turnstones! You can see one in action in this video and hopefully see where they get their name from.
I’ve made a few turnstone pictures. In this one I prefelted lots of oyster shells for the foreground then snipped up loads of different coloured tapestry wool for the beach as I wanted a more distant background impression rather than individual pebbles. The tapestry wool is all from charity shops: I really like recycling old and second hand materials.
It took a surprisingly long time to snip all that wool into a large plastic washing up bowl ready to mix it up and lay it out on top of sandy wool layers. It also made a bit of a mess as the felting threw up lots of loose wool strands because the fibres were very short.
Another experimental approach was a picture I made earlier this year using pieces of recycled silk (cut from charity shop scarves, of course) on top of a couple of layers of wool tops with some wisps of wool on top for colour and to help attach the silk. This gives a different feel – more impressionistic – but still (I hope!) the impression of a pebble beach.
This penguin picture was a commission. Unusually I was working from someone else’s photo rather than my own observations and pictures. By necessity the felt picture is similar to the original photo (though I had to give the penguin on the right a proper head!). I custom made various sheets of light grey pebbly prefelt which I cut up to make this beach as there’s quite a lot of it so I couldn’t just rely on scraps.
And finally, I think this is my favourite beach so far (maybe apart from the oyster shells). It includes several of the techniques I’ve described. I pre-made some shell shapes and used prefelt pieces for pebbles. There’s lots of silk too – I think I may have put down a whole sheet of silk on top of wool layers then added the rest on top of the silk. This gorgeous ringed plover was standing on a shingle spit that juts into the sea just along from my house and I felt this was a good representation of that particular terrain.
Do you have a favourite? Or anything you don’t think really worked? I’d love to hear your views.
I did finally get the cowl finished. It turned out just as I had hoped. I took it up to a flax processing day to show everyone and Jan took some nice pictures of it for me I think they show it off very well.
If you remember this was the inspiration for this cowl. I liked the way the two points overlap.
This is the silk lap side out.
This is the filk fabric side out.
And finally, this is me wearing it. It’s not a great shot of me but it does show how the cowl fits. I plan to use it this winter. My neck is always cold but this will not be bulky under my coat.
I hope you like it and it was worth the wait to finaly see it done.
The wool had to be delivered. I didn’t take my things out first because I thought everyone would want to see mine too. We met at Jans as she is in the middle. See its not that much wool. There is room for lots more in my car.
Before we started Judy brought some interesting wool for Jan to use as witch hair. It is Scottish Mule. It is a cross between a Sottish Black Face and a Bluefaced Leicester.
The first box had my Finish batts
Jans core wool, shetland prefelt and Fawn Corriedale roving. Can you believe it? Jan took so many pictures and non of her own pile. Here’s a shot of the prefelt.
and then unexpectedly my sample packs were at the very bottom.
They are Bambino and Glitzy sample packs. I will keep one of each and sell the rest.
Then it was time for box 2 We got a few things out of the top
But then it was time to up-end it.
It was fun sorting who had what.
I got some wool called tweed it is South American wool and viscose. I got pink and grey I liked the look of it. I think it would make a nice hat. It was compressed down so I opened it to have a better look. Oh look, there is Jans core wool behind.
Isn’t it cool looking?
Then it started to get windy so we had to get the tent down.
And then it was time for me to head home before it decided to start Raining too.
You can see Jan added a trumpet Vine to my box. It is continuing to add roots in a bucket under the apple tree.
That was our adventure in wool buying, I hope you enjoyed it.
When knitting this you do it flat and sew it together. I am not a great sewer and it would end up not looking very good. So I want to figure out how to do it over a resist. It will also take up a lot less room when felting if it is around a resist.
I cut a piece of paper 36 inches by 9 inches. The pattern is 34 inches long but it was easier for me to measure 3 feet. I have footmarks along the edge of my table. The 9 was a guess.
Next was figuring out the folding. the pattern has the cowl divided into 3 and you join it fold to fold. This is what happens when you try that with paper. You can’t align them properly because the bottom is bigger than the top.
I adjusted the folds until they aligned properly and taped it again. Then I folded it in half along the length.
This is going to be too small. It works with knitting because it has stretch, felt and paper do not. It makes an interesting hat.
I decided to slide it down to my neck. It was just manageable. I turned it over too.
So 3 feet isn’t the right length. I will try 4 feet.
This one worked well. it goes on fairly easy and it is not tight around my neck. Of course, it won’t be as stiff as the paper.
This week I made some more samples. The first is a sample of California red that my friend Bo gave me to try. the wool is an oatmeal colour with red hairs in it. There is only a small amount she had combed.
It felted quickly and well. It is fairly firm. I don’t like the hairs init. I am sure they will shed out. They are not held in the felt very well at all and slide out without and force. it might be good for backing a fake sheepskin.
The next one I did was some wool I just got from Lithuania. Jan and I ordered some wool while there was free shipping. Jan will show you the unboxing in her next post.
This sample I am very happy with. It felted quickly and very firmly with no stretch. Usually, when a piece of felt is still wet you can stretch it this way or that to square it up. This one had very little give, perfect for some boots or some baskets.
Finished Dry. I think it would have been smoother if I hadn’t given it a really good scrunching.
The last sample was a new sample for my guild poker challenge. I used a much denser fabric. Even though is heavier it is still an open weave, and slightly wrinkled. On the front, I put some of the same cotton, scrunched up, then some sparkly nylon, silk and at the bottom some viscose.
This is what it looks like dry. There was lots of migration so everything was well stuck. I will leave these one big so you can see them well without having to click on them.
I think this cotton is just what I want. The next job will be to dye some of it for my project. It will fit right in with the 3rd quarter challenge. I am going to keep what I am making a secret for now. 😉
I have come to the conclusion that until I can acquire the appropriate topcoat for both the Pictish Shepherd and the mysterious creature I am temporarily stuck. (Oh if only I could go shopping!! <note wringing hands and serious whining!!> ) I could keep working on the understructures but the day is grey and raining, and I need to do something that is a bit more productive feeling (I already did the dishes. That’s why I’m stuck sitting down again).
I should start thinking about what I want to do next as a picture. There were two shots that I looked at recently that caught my eye. One was a yak, but he has an odd feeling compositionally. On the other hand, the fur is so shaggy and has some interesting colouring to it that it would be fun to work on.
I could crop the shot. I really do like that shaggy fringe. Let’s check out the 5×7 ratio and see what I can get.
It’s ok but doesn’t grab me as much as I thought it would. (It’s likely the rain) the other option is to just pick him up and move him to the left it would also get rid of that annoying tree in the centre of his head. That would likely work better as it would let me play with more shagginess. If I work from the original composition, I think I would like to erase some of the background trees, especially the one growing out of his head (as you can tell it’s really bugging me). Let’s see if Photo pad, (that’s a free photo editing program) can do for a bit of deforestation.
I like the diagonals now and the weight of the composition feels better. I think it was the tree on the top of his head that was really bothering me but this looks much more comfortable and I added a bit of blue to the sky (we could use some of that blue sky here today.)
Oh No, as I was getting the second shot for you I just spotted another I had found earlier that could be cropped to be really fun too.
6 the original.
To get the composition I’m seeing in my head I have lost the 5×7 ratio. That would mean having a special mat cut which has gotten very expensive and isn’t easily available at the moment. (It’s much more frugal to work to a ratio that will fit in a mat and frame I already have so it’s 8×10 or 5×7 or one 4×6.) If you have an image, you can scale it up or down with a photocopier or use your computer and printer. With framing so expensive, if you can arrange to fit into a standard size it will help your costs if you are planning to sell your pictures. (I have not finished Xmass presents so I’m not selling yet! – it’s almost the end of APRIL!! I had better get working on those!)
8 this is 5×7 it’s not quite as intense but it still is very piercing. Yes, this would be fun.
Now let’s look at the other picture I was thinking about.
One of her relatives is a local resident. I’m not sure which neighbour has her as a non-paying renter that I have smelt but not seen yet this year. I particularly like this image but not, the cat food. So let’s see if I can get rid of that first.
not a great job but the offending cat food is gone. Yes, that’s better. Should it be a tighter focus? That usually appeals to me. Better check.
I think I’m losing some of the small, fragile, youthfulness of the face when I get too close to her. It works compositionally but I don’t think it captures the hesitation and age of the upper one.
Now, which one should I choose? Let’s print out 5×7 versions of each and see what they look like. Which would you choose?
The second piece is a fallen tree branch with fungus and lichen. My ideas is that as one thing dies (the branch) it gives life to others (fungi etc). This will tie in with the sprouting seed pod (a new tree) and maybe I’ll add a couple of other things too, yet to be decided.
Wondering where to start with the texture I take myself off to the local park to look at different types of bark.
I am particularly taken with these very ridged examples and wonder how I’d go about creating that texture in wet felt. I happen to have some off-cuts from the seed pod on my work table – a piece of fabric, probably linen, I found in a charity shop and felted – so I decide to see what it looks like if I lay those under some new felt. Keen to do things properly (and not waste time) I make a sample.
I am still experimenting with using wool batts from different breeds of sheep (rather than merino tops) so put together natural brown and grey Shetland and Finnish wools plus a little dyed green Perendale including a couple of bits of prefelt. You can just see the ridges when felted but I want more so try cutting into the surface. I really like that effect.
I try out some pieces of a (charity shop) hand dyed silk scarf for lichen and like those too so decide to get on with making the log.
I make a sheet of nuno felt using the recycled fabric which I cut into uneven strips.
Using a large rectangular resist I lay out 3 layers of wool on each side, wet it down, and add the felted linen strips on one side in what I hope is a bark-ish pattern.
I cover these with two more layers of mixed brown and grey wool then add the surface decoration including prefelted discs for fungus and some marbles under the largest green section.
I would normally lay out the whole thing before starting to felt but there is a lot going on by now that I don’t want to disturb by flipping it over so I start working the first side to try to get it stable before finishing the second side layout.
On the second side I add yarn, locks, nepps, slubs, silk noil, nuno prefelt, pieces from a striped charity shop silk scarf….I am really starting to enjoy this. It’s a good job there isn’t a kitchen sink nearby as I might throw that in too. I’m thinking that as the log will be lying down, this will be the under side so it doesn’t matter if I don’t like everything. I could even cut bits out.
It takes quite a long time to rub and full this woolly smorgasbord, working hard into all the grooves. As I finish working it I decide it looks better standing up and so the log becomes a tree stump.
In the end I decide not to cut into the surface as there is plenty of texture and I also leave the marbles in as I like the green knobbly bits (visible in top picture).
What next? I’ve been mulling over how the pieces will be displayed together and decide to make a flat piece of ‘woodland floor’ felt for them to stand on. I start with a piece of mixed leafy-coloured prefelt.
I cut the prefelt into rough leaf shapes and lay them on some layers of brown wool. I can’t resist adding a little bit of 3D so felt some thick green rope to look like new shoots emerging from the ground.
Finally I make an autumn leaf to highlight the annual cycle of a tree’s dying and renewal.
Here’s the final piece. Have I captured the idea of life cycles?
And yes, Lifecycles has now been accepted into the exhibition so will be on display at Beach Creative in Herne Bay from 20 March to 2 April as part of the 3 gallery exhibition ‘Map’. If you’re in the Whitstable, Faversham, Herne Bay area do pop along to the Fishslab, Creek Creative and/or Beach Creative Galleries and check out how other people have responded to the Map challenge (dates vary slightly). I know some of my friends have fabulous work in the exhibitions so I think they will be hugely varied and interesting shows